Georgian Dream accused of trying to buy votes by fulfilling “dreams”
By Salome Modebadze
Thursday, June 7The Monitoring Service of the Chamber of Control has accused the Georgian Dream opposition coalition of attempted vote-buying. A statement released on Wednesday claims that Bidzina Ivanishvili’s political party has violated criminal law by attempting to bribe potential voters through promises.
Based on information in a recent news report aired by Rustavi 2, Georgian Dream activists promised to fulfill the “dreams” of citizens in return for their support; voters can share their “dreams” on Georgian Dream bulletins distributed by their activists.
The Chamber explained that any direct or indirect financial support, promise, or service given to people within the election campaign is against the law. They asked the General Prosecutor’s Office to investigate and comment on the allegations.
In response, an investigation of the case has been launched by Imereti police, supervised by the Prosecutor’s Office, to avoid criminalization of the electoral process and ensure respect for the rights of individuals and political parties. “Freedom of expression and the right to political activity are guaranteed by Georgian legislation,” reads an initial statement released by the Prosecutor’s Office.
In Rustavi 2’s report, young people in Georgian Dream t-shirts explained that those interested in attending the Georgian Dream rally in Kutaisi on June 10 could write down their “dreams” on a special space on the invitation leaflet. “If a person wants a Lamborghini or villa, we can’t fulfill such a dream but if he/she can’t afford a washing machine, it won’t be a problem,” one of the activists told the journalists.
Coalition member Tina Khidasheli suspects that such “soap operas” with government agencies will continue, and people talking “nonsense” into microphones would become the reason for more investigations into the activities of Georgian Dream. She is certain, however, that the investigations will find nothing.
Maia Panjikidze, Georgian Dream’s spokesperson, denied the accusations against her political coalition, and encouraged the “governmental media” to stop “political provocations”. She claimed that the young people in Rustavi 2’s report were participants in the “provocation”. Panjikidze discouraged people from using Georgian Dream’s name improperly, and asked the public not to trust rumours – instead, rely on information directly released by Georgian Dream. She confirmed that the coalition will “fulfill people’s dreams”, but only after their victory at the polls.
Chair of Georgian Dream-Democratic Movement Manana Kobakhidze accused the Chamber of Control of spreading “absurd statements” in order to hinder the party’s campaign. “Let the Chamber of Control openly say that only the [ruling] United National Movement has the right to hold elections in this country,” she said, calling on the Chamber to admit there is an “authoritarian regime” in Georgia.
Kobakhidze explained that the bulletins distributed to voters were only for informational purposes. They contained a simple survey, in which people were asked to write their own “Georgian dream”.
“We were interested to know what problems the public has,” she explained.
Claiming that Georgian Dream has not been trying to bribe the electorate, Kobakhidze said they only wanted to know what kind of ideas people have about education, economic, or social issues, so the party can consider their suggestions for the state budget after coming to power.